Trinity – A first time vist to this Clapham Restaurant, its has been on the wish list for a while.
NEW SOUTH WALES – AUSTRALIA
Rick Stein at Bannisters – Our Australian correspondent visited Ricks restaurant in Cornwall a couple of years ago so should be in a good position to see how the Australian outpost compares. Apparently it’s a tad warmer there than Padstow.
Lunch at The Ledbury was always going to be an occasion. The food is superb. I simply could not fault any of the dishes I chose from their Sunday Lunch menu. Indeed it was one of these occasions where I really wanted to try nearly all the dishes on the menu. Fortunately I was part of a large enough group to ensure that collectively we were able to order a range of different dishes. There were no dissenting voices at all, every one loved the food. Only one thing went wrong during the lunch, which impacted on the table next to ours. Water started coming through the ceiling from the room above, I guess a burst pipe due to the cold weather. Nothing much the restaurant could do except, put a bowl on the table, call the plumber and move the guests to another table. However it must have been very embarrassing for the staff, as the guests concerned included Martin Scorsese, Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher who certainly did not seem to particularly want to draw attention to themselves. Something that is hard to do when you have to stand up to avoid being splashed!
However when the food is this good, you do not let little things like plumbing problems get in the way, so back to the food.
My starter was the Flamed Grilled Mackerel with Smoked Eel, Tokyo Turnips and Celtic Mustard, it was a great choice. The Mackerel had so much flavour, it was really fresh and just melted in my mouth. The portion was quite substantial for a starter, but despite that I could easily have had seconds.
I was also tempted by the Ceviche of Hand Dived Scallops with Seaweed and Herb Dill Kohlrabi and Frozen Horseradish which one of my companions ordered. Visually it did not look as good, but I was told it was delicious, if a little light and summery for a winter menu.
For my main course I choose fish again. The Skate Poached in Brown Butter with Truffle Puree, Cauliflower, Parmesan Gnocchi and Sea Vegetables. This has to be my dish of the year. It was just so moreish. The Skate was perfect and the Parmesan Gnocchi reminded me so much of another favourite, the Gnocchi dish I had at The Foliage.
For dessert I ordered the Brown Sugar Tart with Muscat Grapes and Stem Ginger Ice Cream, which was matched with a surprisingly fruity Pedro Ximenez sherry from Barossa Valley in Australia, it was very different from the Spanish ones I have had in the past. The tart was very light and the ice cream was very subtle. The dessert highlight however had to be the Passion Fruit Souffle with Sauterne Ice cream, which was large enough for us all to try – a perfect Souffle.
This is the first post from our “Australian correspondent”. A foodie friend who has emigrated to warmer climes. The subject is Berowra Waters Inn an amazing venue reachable by seaplane.
Berowra Waters Inn – High Flyer or Car Crash?
Berowra Waters Inn is uniquely located in the the stunning Hawkesbury River, and is only accessible by “seaplane, boat or the restaurant’s own private ferry”. Originally opened by Tony and Gay Bilson, and recently re-opened by Dietmar Sawyer, the restaurant is frequented by both epicures, and those celebrating special occasions. It was just such a special occasion, my birthday, that took us to Berowra. We chose to arrive in style by seaplane from Rose Bay, a high flying start to the day! Our original delight at the restaurant’s location, and our wonderful window seat, grew to dismay at the simply shocking service. Menus were slow to arrive, as was the taking of our orders. Having placed our order for 6 courses, one couldn’t help but begin to wonder when we might see the first one! An hour and a half after sitting down, we only had one course, by which point we were simply starving! After sharp words, and a call to our pilot to delay our return, our next 3 courses arrived in rapid succession! And what amazing courses they were!
The food at Berowra is simply exquisite, world class. I was blown away by the Langoustine Pastilla and Wagyu Beef dishes. Food quality was on par with some of my favourite London Michelin Starred restaurants, such as Tom Aikens and Foliage. In light of this, we think we might forgive Berowra Waters it’s awful service, and will certainly be back for another visit!
Last Post for the Foliage, not last post for No Expert – we are still going strong. The Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental however had a farewell lunch service today. It was lovely to be there but tinged with sadness, as it marked the end of an era for us.
The team pulled out all the stops. We started with a complimentary glass of superb champagne and some very tasty canapes. This was followed by the amuse bouche. We then had the opportunity to go off menu to choose some of the dishes. One of the standouts being the Sea Diver Scallops with chicken and mushrooms. It was also impossible not to order our last gnocchi, one of the Foliages sublime dishes. For main course we choose the lamb and an off menu beef dish, the wine selection chosen to go with this was absolutely stunning. Indeed all the wines selections were off a very high standard. I especially enjoyed the Trocken Beerenauslese, Nittaus, 2004 dessert wine.
The ever attentive staff were on hand to bring us up to date on the progess being made to complete the Daniel Boulud Restaurant (Bar Boulud) in the basement, due to open in May, and the Heston Blumental Restaurant which would be the Foliage replacement, due to open towards the end of this year. It is just a shame that a such a fine restaurant is closing prematurely to make way for these changes. It was good to see the Head Chef Alex Marks come out of the kitchen to talk to some of the regular dinners, where he received some direct praise for his teams work over the years. It was also a nice touch to be presented with a copy of the menu signed by members of staff as a memento.
So it’s a fond fairwell to the Foliage. We and the other regulars will miss you.
A first for us, getting the dates wrong for one of our restaurant visits. It turned out that we had arrived a week earlier than our booking – almost a disaster. Fortunately they just managed to squeeze us in. We literally got the very last table in a packed restaurant.
The meal was of the usual high standard, with the Gnocchi and Ox Cheeks dishes being the standouts. In fact it was so good, we decided to keep the booking for the next week as well!.
Felt a bit odd returning to the Foliage our favorite restaurant following the regime change. Alex Marks is now the Head Chef, he was Chris Staines Sous chef for a couple of years and had formally worked at The Square. The menu still retains a number of Chris’s dishes, and a few new ones from Alex. One of Alexs’ dishes the gnocchi was a particular success, which although it contained no meat, seemed to deliver the essence of Sunday lunch.
The new Heston Blumental restaurant is yet to be named and is due to open in October 2010 with perhaps as many as 200 covers. Time will tell if all these changes are for the best. One thing is for sure is that we will miss Chris Staines and the Foliage once it goes for good. I just hope the staff are kept on under the new regime as Heston would be unwise to lose the talent in the kitchen and front of house.